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Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach

texting while driving

Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach

by James M. Flammang

“Do as I say, not as I do.” Plenty of parents and other adults have long been criticized for delivering this argument to youngsters. Now, it appears that teenage drivers are adopting that same illogical stand when it comes to texting and driving and other high-risk driving.

According to a recent national survey conducted by State Farm and Harris Interactive, teenagers riding in a car are actively discouraging the driver from texting while driving. But when they’re behind the wheel themselves, it’s a different story.

While in passenger mode, 78 percent of surveyed teens claimed they “spoke up and pointed out a driver’s distracted behavior.” Having done so, 84 percent insisted that the driver listened to their objection and ceased the distracting activity.

State Farm cites the comments of an 18-year-old Pennsylvania driver, Navea Frazier. “When I’m in a car with my friends,” Frazier reported, I say, ‘Hey, don’t do that. I’ll text for you.’ I’m the designated texter. And they always stop driving distracted.”

Of the 16 percent of teens who chose not to point out the troubling behavior, nearly half said, “they felt the driver could handle the distraction.”

Most distressing is the response from 34 percent of the surveyed teens: While they might ask friends or others not to text and drive, they continue to engage in texting themselves when behind the wheel. “Research tells us that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving,” says Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research. Teens need to “understand that no one can handle driving distracted.”

teen texting and driving

Another study, by the National Safety Council, reveals a troubling disparity between attitudes about drowsy driving versus driving while intoxicated. “Drunk driving is universally viewed as dangerous,” says Janet Froetscher, president/CEO of the Council. However, “young people especially don’t understand the very risks associated with drowsy and distracted driving.” They often believe sleep-deprived driving is “understandable” rather than “wrong.”

According to the Council, sleep-related and alcohol-related crashes “occur predominantly among young drivers.” Furthermore, during long highway trips, drivers under age 30 are more sleep-deprived than those in other age groups.

texting and driving

As for those respondents who claim the distracted teenage driver always stops texting when warned by a passenger, we’d bet that a bit of exaggeration is going on. Either that, or teenagers have changed considerably in the 21st century. A few decades back, suggesting from the back seat that a young driver tone down his antics was more likely to result in snickers and derision from other passengers than immediate cessation of the dangerous misbehavior. Are you a teen or adult who thinks texting and driving at the same time is a distraction you can handle?

Learn more about driving safety and improving your driving skills in autoMedia’s Drive Smart section. 

Texting & Driving: Teen Drivers Don’t Necessarily Practice What They Preach



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